Reflection No. 121 on Q 42:38 – Seeking counsel
وَأَمْرُهُمْ شُورَىٰ بَيْنَهُمْ
Wa-amruhum shūrā baynahum.
And their rule is to take counsel among themselves. Sūratush Shūrā (No. 42), Āyat 38
This sentence in Āyat 38 is part of a passage that describes the people for whom the Hereafter will be so much better than the world. One of their qualities is that they seek counsel from one another. Islam recommends that believers seek advice from each other, and discuss things to get the opinions of others. This is beneficial for the individual as well as for society. It builds self-esteem and nurtures wisdom. It creates unity and harmony in the community, and strengthens bonds between people.
The Holy Prophet (s) despite his status and close connection to God often took counsel of others. In Sūrat Āli Imrān, Āyat 159, Almighty Allah tells His Prophet (s) to seek counsel of others. The Holy Prophet would often ask his companions for their suggestions. Strategies employed in battles such as ‘Uhud and Khandaq were per the advice of the companions. This was to emphasize the importance of seeking counsel so that Muslims make it a part of their lives, and also to nurture the thinking and wisdom of the Muslims. Commentators believe that this quality helped the Prophet (s) win over people and made him a successful leader.
When a person seeks the opinion of others, he broadens and enlivens his thinking. He adds the intelligence of others to his own, and is protected from narrow mindedness and mistaken thinking tracks. He is more likely to get support for the decisions he makes. It also leads to a greater appreciation and respect for others. Amīrul Mu’minīn Imam Ali (a) says: Whoever seeks advice of the intelligent ones becomes enlightened with the lights of [many] intelligences (MH, H. # 9848). He also says: It is right that the intelligent one should add to his opinion the opinions of the intelligent ones, and add the knowledge of the wise ones to his knowledge (MH, H. # 9863).
Seeking counsel of the right people is part of the life of a believer. The final decision is made by the individual, but it is done after listening to what others, whom he trusts and respects, have to say. It is a great way to benefit from the wisdom and experiences of others.
Sources: Tafsīir-e Namune, Aytaullāh Nāsir Makārim Shirāzi (ed);
Mizānul Hikmah, Muhammadi Rayshahrī